Choosing an iron should be simple, but unfortunately, it’s not. You would think something like ironing should be easy. But what is easy is making an uninformed choice and regretting it later.
There are many types of irons with different features, mechanisms, pro, cons, soleplates, and more. Not understanding these could mean that you can end up with a product that does not fulfill your requirements.
It’s our goal to inform and educate our readers about the products that they are going to purchase. To fulfill this goal, we have come up with this article.
This article lists all the common ironing and iron-related questions. We searched extensively and tried to find all the different questions that we could find and answered them in sufficient detail.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- What is a dry iron
- What is steam Iron
- Benefits of Steam Iron
- Is Steam Iron Good for clothes?
- Benefits/Advantages of Dry Irons
- Steam Iron vs Dry (regular) iron?
- Can a steam iron be used without water?
- What is Garment Steamer?
- Steam Iron vs Garment Steamer
- Types of plating on irons (soleplates)
- Which is the best Soleplate for Ironing?
- What is better a clothes steamer or iron?
- What is the Best Steam Iron to Buy In India?
What is a dry iron
A dry iron, as the name suggests, has no steam producing mechanism on its own. It depends on the cloth being ironed to be moist to help produce the steam to ease the wrinkles in the cloth. A moist or damp cloth loses its wrinkles quickly when ironed.
Due to no steam production of their own, dry irons also need to be moved on the cloth multiple times to ease out the wrinkles. To make ironing with the dry irons easier, it is also common to manually dampen the clothes by sprinkling water on them and resting them.
If you are over 20 years old, then it’s a high possibility that you’ve seen dry irons in your home as well. Traditionally, dry irons were the only types of irons available.
You can identify a dry iron by looking at its soleplate. Dry irons have flat soleplates with no holes. If you see an iron which has a bottom soleplate like the image below, then it’s a dry iron.
Because there is no mechanism to produce steam inside a dry iron, dry irons are smaller compared to a steam iron. As of today, dry irons are also cheaper than steam irons.
What is steam Iron
Steam irons are modern irons that use a combination of heat and steam to iron clothes. Steam irons have built-in mechanisms that can produce steam during ironing. Because of the steam generated, the ironing process becomes faster, easier and simpler.
You can identify a steam iron too by looking at its soleplate. Steam irons have soleplates with holes for the steam to pass through. If you see a soleplate on an iron which looks similar to the one below (or has holes in general), then it’s a steam iron.
Benefits of Steam Iron
There are many benefits of steam irons over traditional (dry) irons and garment steamers. Dry irons can only iron the clothes, and garment steamers can only steam the clothes. But, steam irons can iron as well as steam the clothes.
A modern steam iron can do the work of a dry iron and garment steamer. Newer models of steam irons can even be used to vertically steam clothes, thus doing the work of expensive garment steamers.
On the price front, steam irons are obviously little expensive than a dry iron. But steam irons are less expensive than high-end garment steamers. A moderate steam iron priced between Rs 1500 to 2500 will be sufficient to replace a good dry iron and a garment steamer.
Is Steam Iron Good for clothes?
Of course, steam irons are good for clothes. In some cases, they are even better than dry irons. Using a steam iron properly ensures that there is no damage to the fabric being ironed.
Any iron can be bad for clothes if not used properly. By learning the proper method for ironing, you can irons clothes with both your steam iron or your dry iron.
We personally prefer steam irons as they make the ironing process easier and faster. Steam irons are also versatile than dry irons can be used to iron a variety of clothes.
Even when ironing sensitive clothing, you can use the steam from the steam iron to remove the wrinkles instead of making direct contact with the cloth. You can use this method to iron silk, polyester, sports jerseys, heavy dresses like saris etc., without damaging the cloth in any way.
Benefits/Advantages of Dry Irons
Dry irons are also useful for a variety of ironing needs. But they have only physical advantages over steam irons. Specifically, there are 4 advantages of dry irons over steam irons.
Dry irons are smaller compared to steam irons and steamers. That means they are easy to carry when traveling. The small size also means that you can store the iron in smaller places.
Dry irons are lighter compared to steam irons. If you have a lot of clothes to iron frequently, the weight can make a difference. But, steam irons compensate by requiring less effort to iron.
Dry irons don’t require much maintenance. Depending on the type of soleplate, you may need to clean the soleplate once a while and protect it from scratches.
Dry irons are cheaper compared to steam irons.
Steam Iron vs Dry (regular) iron?
There are many differences between a dry (regular) iron and a steam iron.
A decent steam iron can do the work of both a dry iron and a steamer. A dry iron has only physical advantages over steam irons. On the actual ironing front, steam irons are superior.
Here are the key differences between a steam iron and a dry iron.
A dry iron is smaller compared to a steam iron. Some dry iron manufactures even make micro models of their products which are suitable for travelers.
Unfortunately, steam irons are not too small. Because of the steaming element, they have a bigger size compared to dry irons. Due to the same reason, dry irons are also lighter compared to a steam iron.
The other advantage is the price. While you can find a decent dry iron for Rs 500-700, we would recommend you purchase a steam iron in the Rs 1500 – 2000 range at least.
Apart from these disadvantages, there are many advantages of a steam iron over a dry iron.
Steam irons help you iron clothes faster with less effort. If you have to move a dry iron over a piece of cloth 3-5 times to remove wrinkles, steam iron will need only 1 glide.
This saves a lot of time and effort. Since steam irons are heavier, some people might think that it takes much more effort to iron with it. But the ease of ironing reduces that effort significantly.
Overall if you compare the ironing experience between a dry iron and a steam iron, the steam iron would win hands down.
Another advantage of a steam iron is that you can also use steam irons to iron delicate clothing like silk, lighter fabrics, and even printed t-shirts. Even if the cloth is very sensitive, you can hold the steam iron a few centimeters above it and let the steam do the work. You can iron the most sensitive clothes with this method without causing any damage to the cloth.
Can a steam iron be used without water?
Yes. Steam irons can be used without water as well. Obviously, when using steam irons without water, they will not generate steam. That means they will work like dry irons without water.
What is Garment Steamer?
A garment steamer, cloth steamer, or just steamer is a product that is used to remove wrinkles from clothes using just steam.
You might wonder what is the difference between a steam iron and garment steamer is then?
The difference between a steamer and steam iron is that a steam iron uses softening and flattening to remove wrinkles while garment steamers use only softening.
Unlike an iron, a garment steamer does not touch the fabric. It is used at a small distance from the fabric. The steam from the steamer helps remove the wrinkles.
When steam is used on a fabric, the steam penetrates through the fabric and makes it soft. Both steam irons and steamers use this to their advantage. However, steam irons use the steam to soften the fabric and then use the heat of the metal to flatten the fabric at the same time.
A common doubt a lot of people have is that should they purchase a garment steamer instead of a steam iron? We will address that in the next section.
Steam Iron vs Garment Steamer
What is better, steam iron or garment steamer? This question comes up often with the people who are looking to purchase a steam iron. We will try to explain the difference in detail in this article.
Steam iron and garment steamer are built for different purposes. Garment steamers were initially built for commercial purposes. They are still common in shopping malls where they are used to iron clothes which are tried by customers but not purchased.
Garment steamers are not very effective for household ironing. That is because, on heavily creased clothes, they will take forever to remove the wrinkles. They are ideal only for removing small wrinkles from the cloth.
Therefore, for regular home use, you should not consider purchasing a garment steamer. Purchase a steam iron instead.
The only advantage of having a garment steamer is that you can use it to remove wrinkles from very soft fabrics, like silk. But that advantage is also not a good enough reason to buy a garment steamer. We will explain this point in a section below.
Steam irons, on the other hand, are built to iron everything. You can iron hard fabrics like jeans and soft materials like cotton easily. The only disadvantage is that it’s not very safe to iron sensitive materials likes like silk with an iron.
Modern steam irons have solved that problem effectively. Modern steam irons can iron both horizontally and vertically. Horizontal ironing is when the cloth is laid flat on a surface and the iron is moved over it.
Vertical ironing is when the cloth is hung up and you use the steam iron’s steam to iron the cloth vertically. This makes a steam iron function just like a garment steamer.
Types of plating on irons (soleplates)
The bottom part of the iron which comes in contact with the cloth is called plate, or soleplate. Soleplates can be made of many types of materials, each of which has different types of properties. The common materials used for plating are:
- Cast Iron (Obsolete)
- Stainless Steel (common on dry iron)
- Non-Stick Material
Each of these has advantages and disadvantages and we have written [a detailed comparison on different soleplates] which you should read to understand them better.
Which is the best Soleplate for Ironing?
This is a common question amongst people who are looking to buy an iron. If you have the same question, then it’s important to understand that “best” is subjective. There is not one product that is best for everyone. But, you can choose a product that is best for you based on your needs.
If you iron once a week, or less frequently, and iron mostly cotton shirts, denim, and other natural fabrics, then choose stainless steel soleplates irons. You can purchase a dry iron or a steam iron, that is your preference.
If you iron more than once a week and have many synthetic fibers clothes like polyester, sportswear, then choose ceramic soleplates. In this case, we would recommend that you purchase a steam iron.
If you want a lightweight iron that is rugged, works with all fabrics, and lasts the longest, then choose a titanium soleplate. Here also we would recommend that you purchase a steam iron.
To understand the differences of soleplates in more detail, refer to our article on [the different types of soleplates].
What is better a clothes steamer or iron?
As we mentioned earlier, clothes steamers and irons are made for different purposes. You cannot do the job of a steam iron with a cloth steamer, but you can definitely do the job of a cloth steamer with a vertical steam iron.
Cloth steamers are useful only for lightly wrinkled clothes, like suits and blazers. They became popular because unlike irons, cloth steamers can be used by anyone without the risk of cloth damage.
Obviously, you will not purchase a product for only your delicate clothes. Therefore, we are confident in saying that steam irons are much better than garment steamers for a variety of uses.
What is the Best Steam Iron to Buy In India?
This is a common question that many people ask before purchasing a steam iron. Other common questions are “Which is the best steam iron brand in India”, or “Which is the best iron box in India”.
It’s a difficult question to answer as everyone has a different “best”. Some people prefer low cost while others may prefer convenience. What we can help you with is give you the correct information to make an informed decision yourself.
By reading this article, you have already understood many important things that you need to know about steam irons and dry irons. We recommend that you also read about [different soleplates and theirs uses] and then read our [steam iron buying guide]. Once you understand the information, then you should read our detailed post about [the best steam iron in India] where we briefly review different irons and their properties.
We hope that you are satisfied with our answers to most iron related questions. We have tried our best to gather the most important questions and answer them in sufficient so as to inform you, but not overwhelm you. If you have any other questions that you would like us to answer, feel free to leave a comment below.